Friday, June 22, 2007

Ta ra rum pum?

It has been one month into my holidays and I have 50 more days left to have unbridled fun in Chennai. I am bored, terribly bored. Unlike me, most of my friends are already back at college and to make things worse, the two electronic devices that I thought that I could not live without, my laptop and my cell phone, decided to stop working at the same time. The laptop, I can bring back to life if I buy a new multi-plug converter but the cell phone, well it’s been on its death bed for the past 1 year.

I loved that phone, it was an NGage QD which had lost all its shine within a couple of weeks and its outer rubber grip was hanging precariously within a month. Still, I had saved more than 300 jokes on it and all of it is lost now. Apart from the frequent pangs of sadness that strike me whenever I look at my lifeless NGage, I haven't really missed having a cell phone. Aamir Khan in a recent interview said something about how giving up his cell phone had given him mental peace and stuff. I think I'm going to try living without a cell phone and see what this mental peace is all about. No more worrying about what ring tone to choose, when I should start deleting messages so that my phone won't crash, whether I missed any calls when I was in the shower, whether my phone is in silent mode when I'm in the theater...wow, a cell phone can be a burden.

In a blog post last year, I mentioned a few things that I wanted to accomplish like learning Hindi and figuring out how to drive a car. A year later I am working towards accomplishing these two tasks. I am going for spoken Hindi classes and as a result, I am getting better at understanding my friends from college when they insult me. Also, I started driving classes yesterday. Getting my LLR was difficult enough - I went to get my documents signed at the RTO (Regional Transport Office) and I was sent back because I was wearing shorts. Yes, it is heartening to find out that the government officials consider wearing shorts a bigger offense than blindly giving licenses to morons who drive like they own the road.

Well anyway, I started driving yesterday and it was my first time behind the wheel. I had never driven a vehicle with gears before and by the time I had understood what the clutch was for, I was on the main road driving a rickety old Maruti 800 whose seats have probably never been washed in the 15 years the car has been in existence. It was unnerving, with buses going past and autos cutting in front. I drove all the way from Saligramam to Kodambakkam and that was the end of my first class. I gave the door two thumps to let myself out and sat in the back seat to watch another newbie try to make sense of Chennai's roads.

I know I am probably not qualified to judge, but I feel I drove better than the other guy. I mean it’s all about trusting your skills as a driver and I remember making quite an impression on a lady who was trying to cross the road while I was driving. I couldn't quite make out what she was saying but I think it was something like 'veetila solittu vandhiyaa?' Yes I did, my parents are very proud.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sivaji Movie Review

I thought that I would have to wait for 3-4 weeks before I could get a ticket to watch Sivaji but luckily, my cousin had an extra ticket and I jumped at the opportunity. I watched the movie at Mayajaal, not the ideal place to enjoy a Rajinikanth flick but the mood in the hall was electric for Mayajaal's standards.

So the premise of the movie is this - Rajinikanth is a Software Systems Architect from America who comes back to India with a ton of money with the aim of building a hospital and a college to serve the needy. He soon figures out he can't accomplish much without bribing every single official who needs to sign his documents. He also figures out that with the crores of black money that is hidden in the country, he can help the poor get access to good education and health care. The movie is basically about how he goes about doing this and the obstacles he faces. As he says in the movie, "The rich get richer, the poor get poorer".

Sivaji is truly an out and out commercial film relying on Rajini's appeal and charisma to deliver a social message. This is yet another Shankar movie where the protagonist takes the law into his own hands to do good to his fellowmen. It is a long movie, running for 3 and a quarter hours, with lots of songs, fight sequences, punch dialogues and comedy sequences befitting a Rajinikanth film. Shriya, the heroine of this film, impresses. Unlike other non-Tamilian actresses, her lips and her voice sync, she actually acts and she sizzles in all the songs. Vivek is there to provide comic relief and he does a good job. He has a pretty meaty role (he is Rajini's mama) and this movie is sure to help him revive his acting career which seemed to be taking a downward turn. AR Rahman's background score is pretty good and there is a special appearance by the now much much thinner Nayantara in the Sooriyanum Santhiranum song. The art direction in this movie is awesome and the sets are amazing especially in the song 'Vaaji Vaaji'.

This is a Rajinikanth film and Shankar pulls out all the stops to make it look as grand as possible. You will need to suspend belief and forget about logic if you want to enjoy this movie. Sivaji is meant to entertain and if that means Rajini beating up 30 goondas single handedly, then you better whistle and clap because otherwise you're not going to enjoy the film.

My Verdict: Impossible to rate a Rajinikanth movie.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Movie Review

So the second movie of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) left off with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) locked up in Davy Jones' (Bill Nighy) locker and William Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Sparrow’s crew planning to head to World's end to bring Sparrow back from the dead. The third (and hopefully final) movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End starts with the Dutch East India Company in control of the Flying Dutchman because they now possess its Captain's (Davy Jones) heart and are using the ship and its crew to get rid of the Pirate menace. The protagonists of the movie each have different aims: Sparrow wants to kill Jones' heart so that he can become the Flying Dutchman's Captain and live forever, Turner wants the Black Pearl so that he can free his grotesque and really disgusting looking father, Captain Barbossa wants to free Calypso (the weird woman from the second movie who lived in that swamp) and Swann wants to bring back Sparrow from the dead because she feels guilty that she happened to be the reason for his death. Turner and Swann are also in a bad state in their relationship with Turner thinking that Swann is in love with Sparrow.

Quite a lot to keep up with and I think that's where the movie fails. There's just too much packed into the storyline and the movie seems to go on and on. There is much less action in this movie compared to the previous two and the real fight only comes towards the end with Hans Zimmer's stunning background score providing a zest that is incomparable.

Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is brilliant once again and reminds us why this franchise became such a hit. He has created a character so amazing that even when Sparrow does something conniving and selfish, you just can't hate him. Bloom as William Turner was a disappointment. His character has become boring and it’s just tedious to keep up with his storyline. He didn't infuse energy into his character at all. Knightley was good as Swann and she got a decent amount of screentime. It was nice to see a special appearance by Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist whom Depp based his character on.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End isn't as pacy as the first movie and it confuses the viewer with its many complex storylines. However, it still has some of the unmistakable charm and thrills that the previous two movies possessed. There is the weird humour, the ugly pirates (a lot of them looked so unbelievably disgusting) and the awesome ships that the viewers of this series have become acquainted to. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is not on my list of favourite movies but I think it is worth a watch, just to see Johnny Depp fascinate and frustrate the audience one last time as Captain Jack Sparrow.

My verdict: 5.5/ 10